The Parenting Coach Podcast with Crystal

S1 E07 - Zones for Us and Our Kids

Apr 05, 2021


Do you ever feel your temperature rising inside you during the day? You try to push it down, but more and more of what your child does keeps “pushing your buttons”? This is so normal, it's part of being human. Let me teach you how do deal with this. This method is great to help us be more mindful of our feelings during the day and to self-regulate before we explode. This hack also works great on willing kids. 

What we get into in this episode:

  • How parenting from the Red Zone can harm our relationships
  • What to do to be more mindful of our zones
  • How to move through our zones throughout the day


I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.

Link to membership: By Design

Find me on the ‘gram: The.Parenting.Coach

My website:

More on the blog: Helping Children Move Through Zones

More on the blog: Why We Get Burnt When We Parent In The Fire



Episode Transcript


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.

Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert, and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple, and check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.

Hello, this is Episode 7, Zones for Us and for Our Kids.


Parenting from the Red Zone, Green Zone, and Yellow Zone

So, I don't know if you've ever read my blog post; I talk about zones all the time. I feel like it's one of the main tools that I teach my clients; and I teach my clients this because it is just so helpful. So, this is how I describe the zones – Red Zone, Yellow Zone, Green Zone; 


Green Zone

When I'm in my Green Zone-- If you remember back to last week, when we talked about emotions and how different it is to parent from a place of like stress or overwhelm versus a place of calm and content, we talked about the week before also, right? So, it does really matter. 

So, I want you to think about your Green Zone; maybe that's content, maybe that's calm, maybe that's confident or peaceful. Now, whatever that is for you, it's probably going to be different from person to person. 

So, maybe for me, it feels calm and content. Well, somebody else maybe feels excited or happy. I just want you to feel where your best parenting comes from and where you feel the best. Even if you're not parenting during the day – just you personally, yourself, at home by yourself – how are you feeling when you are feeling your best? What emotions do you feel there? What does it look like there? 

So, I would get out of paper in a pen and write down, what is my Green Zone? 

So, Green Zone for me looks like, what? 


Yellow Zone

Now, I want you to move to Yellow Zone. So, Yellow Zone for me is frustrated and agitated, and maybe a little bit like frantic; that's usually when I feel like, 'Okay, we're behind, we're running late.' You know, I'm going to feel a little frantic, I'm going to feel agitated, I'm going to feel frustrated. 

So, in that mode, I'm probably going to be a little bit short with my words, I'm probably not going to be as connected with my kids, I'm definitely not going to be as patient with them.

When I'm talking to them about things, I'm not going to communicate as much or really be trying to think about things from their angle or what's going on with them. It's a little bit more me-focused. So, that's what my yellow looks like. 

So, then now, I want you to keep with that piece of paper; and I want you to write down 'Yellow Zone'.

So, what does your Yellow Zone feel like? You can probably feel this-- A great explanation is like boiling a kettle or water boiling in a kettle. So, you can start to feel it kind of heat up; your temperature is rising on the inside, you're feeling it heat up a little bit – that's your yellow.

So, it could be anxious, it could be panic, it could be worry.


Red Zone

Now, I want you to think about your Red Zone. So, Red Zone is when you flipped your lid. This is when you've totally gone from your logical brain to your emotional brain. We have this higher and lower brain; and our higher brain is very logical, and it can think through things clearly and make decisions ahead of time. 

And our emotional brain is very frustrated, and it's very stressed, and it's tense; it's anything that's really like big emotions. So, you can think of it as like flipping your lid. 

So, now the kettle has like totally flipped the lid, and it's like steaming all over the place and crazy; that is your Red Zone. 

So, Red Zone, again, is going to look different for other people. So, maybe it's like, any intense emotion, really, would be your Red Zone.

Now, the thing about this emotional and logical brain that we have is that it's like a teeter-totter seesaw; you can't be in both at the same time. So, when your emotional brain is high, then your logical thinking brain is low; and vice versa. 

So, when you are in your Red Zone; you are not going to be able to think about things clearly, you're not going to make decisions for maybe the best of everybody in the future, you're just going to be making momentary decisions right from that – right from that feeling. 

So, the goal here is to move ourselves from our emotional brain back to our logical brain. But like we talked about when we were talking about emotions, we need to actually process that emotion. So, go back and listen to the N-O-W Feeling Process, because that's a great tool to use in these situations. 


What makes you feel better in the Red Zone, Green Zone, and Yellow Zone?

But for now, I want you to think about, what makes me feel better? When I'm mad or when I'm upset, what makes me feel better? Now, I asked a group of teenagers this, one time, and they said, "Eating and video games." Well, eating and video games make you feel better because you're not really allowing that emotion, right? You're doing something else, instead. 

So, I want you to think about, what actually nourishes me, what actually makes me feel better? So, maybe it's something like taking some deep breaths, doing a meditation, listening to music, dancing it out in your kitchen to music. It could be doing Thought Dumps like we talked about in a past episode, it could be doing the N-O-W Feeling Process

So, I want you to write down what feels good to you in each zone.


How does your Green Zone look like?

So, Green Zone might look like you are more connected with your kids; maybe you're thinking about them more, maybe you're having fun, maybe you're playing. Maybe you're engaged. Maybe your – you know – high relationship, high communication is coming from the Green Zone.


How does your Yellow Zone feel and act like?

So, what does your Yellow Zone look like? What kind of-- What are the typical actions coming from that Yellow Zone right now, which is probably going to be agitation or frustration – maybe you're shorter with them and maybe you're not as connected to them? 

So, what would make you feel better to go back down into your Green Zone? So, what is it that I need? And oftentimes, what I need is just food or water or maybe I need a little bit of alone time – maybe I need some connection with myself. So, just kind of-- A lot of times there can be an unmet need behind there. And so, just kind of figuring out what that is, and addressing that unmet need. 


How does your Red Zone feel and act like?

Now, in your Red Zone, what do the actions typically look like? Maybe you yell, maybe you scream, maybe you stomp, maybe you slam doors, maybe you leave the room – whatever that is in your Red Zone, typically. 

Now, what feels good to move you from your Red Zone to your Yellow Zone or to your Green Zone? What would you want to do in that moment? The goal here is to never respond or react in the Red Zone. 

So, don't text message somebody back, don't call somebody, don't have a conversation with someone when you're in your Red Zone; you've probably done this before, and you probably know that it doesn't go very well. Our brain wants to tell us it's an important – that we need to talk about it now, that it has to be done right now. It's like imminent, right? 

That's what happens when we're in our Red Zone. That's how we feel, but it's just not true; and great solutions, and communication, and relationship building will never come from our Red Zone.


What to do to be more mindful of our zones

So, once you can start being mindful about your Red Zone, your Yellow Zone, and your Green Zone, and where you're at during the day – and then being mindful about what makes me feel better when I am feeling that way – you can start moving through your zones, kind of, fluidly throughout the day. 

We are going to feel half the time, kind of crummy, and half the time, not crummy, right? That's just what life is. Life is a mixture of 50/50, positive and negative. And so, that's okay. That's normal, but we just want to figure out what makes us feel good. 

Like I love to read a book with like a really soft blanket around me when I'm, you know, wanting to calm down. I love to write out my thoughts. I love to just sit and feel my feelings. I love to, I don't know much about meditation, but it's something I've been getting into, and just like sitting there and kind of releasing.

I love to go on a walk. I love to go be in nature. Music, music is a big one for me too; listening to music, singing music, dancing to music – any of those kind of things to help me get out of that kind of funk that I'm in when I'm in the Red Zone. 

And like we talked about the N-O-W Feeling Process last – Name it, Open up to it, Watch it – that's a great way to kind of process that emotion as well. And sometimes, I'll do that, and then I'll do a Thought Dump. Then I'll write down, 'Okay, well, what thoughts am I thinking here? What's going on here?' 

And then, I can kind of analyze that situation, but I can't analyze that situation when I'm in my Red Zone, because like I said, it's that teeter-totter; if you're high in emotions, you're going to be low in logic – and vice versa. So, you need to find ways that can help you get back into that logical thinking brain before you can want to respond to that situation. 

You know, our brain is going to tell us it's like an emergency situation. So, an example could be like we're at the park and you're going to be late for something; and you're getting more and more agitated, and your child doesn't want to come. 

And you're like, 'I'm noticing that I'm in my yellow. Now, I'm in my red.' And you're probably thinking to me right now, 'No, Crystal, I have to actually do something about this. This is problematic. We're going to be late.' 

Well, I like to zoom out and think like, 'What's actually really important here? What's the most important thing right now?' And when I can zoom out, my most important thing is probably not that it matters if I'm late for my appointment. 

I'm not saying just be late for all your appointments, but nothing positive's going to happen from that parenting mode, anyways, 'I'm going to have to pick up my kid and drag them into the van. We're going to have a fight. We're going to get there and we're going to be frustrated, annoyed. It's probably going to take just as long, anyways.' 

So, just calming down and relaxing and taking even just a minute to just cool yourselves down – cool yourself down before you respond – will really help that situation; in the long-run, that will really help. 

Now, I love to do this zooming out thing, when I can zoom out of any situation because when I'm in that situation I think, 'This is urgent, this is imminent, I need to deal with this now, this is a big deal, this is a problem.' 

When I have those kinds of thoughts, they just lead me to pressure and panic and stress and overwhelm; and my greatest parenting moments and my decisions – my creative solutions – aren't going to come from that space. So, I can zoom out and just think, 'Okay, what's really important here?' 

And when I think of, what's really important here, the answer is always relationship; relationship, above all. So, how can I preserve the relationship in this moment with my child right now? 

If it's that I'm really, really angry and mad and I'm in my Red Zone, preserving the relationship might mean literally not saying anything and walking away, right? And you're probably thinking, 'Well, that doesn't sound like positive parenting.' Well, the alternative would be, you're yelling at them or saying something unkind or slamming the door. So, it's trying to limit the damage that's going to be done. 

And then, like all of us, because we do make mistakes – everybody does – to repair. The great thing about being human is that all of us make mistakes. There's not anybody on the planet that doesn't make a mistake, and that we can always repair that damage as well; and repairing can be a great way to connect with your child. 

Not only can it be a great way to reconnect with your child after some damage has been done there, but it also can be a great way to show them, 'Hey, I'm human; and I make mistakes too, did you know that, like even adults make mistakes? That's okay.' 

That's actually going to be teaching them great growth mindset skills; for them to see that failure is okay – and how we deal with failure and apologize and learn from that failure is going to be huge for them. So, now that you know all about zones, I want you to practice it this week. 


How to move through our zones throughout the day

I'm going to tell you a little bit about zones for our kids now. So, our kids also have these zones. Once I started getting used to my zones and kind of moving through them fluidly throughout the day, I started also being able to recognize my kids’ zones.

It kind of just came a little bit by little bit, but I would notice just like a tone of voice here or an action there. And I was like, 'Oh wait, I think my son is in like yellow right now.' 

Like, I can even tell now when I'm working in one room and he's in the other room, when he starts to get agitated and frustrated – when he's moving to his Yellow Zone, so then I can help kind of intervene at that time, and help him out. 

So, maybe he needs to jump on the trampoline for a bit. Maybe he needs a snuggle. Maybe he just needs to chat. Maybe he hasn't eaten in a while. Maybe he hasn't had water in a while. Maybe he needs some fresh air. Maybe he's had too many screens. 

There are so many things that could be behind the scenes going on there; and I can kind of show up in that Yellow Zone that he's in, and help him through that. So, like I said, children aren't great at regulating their emotions when they're growing up. 

It's not until about the age of 12 that they start learning how to regulate their emotions. So, it is helpful for us to kind of intervene and help them regulate their emotions when they don't know how. 

So, I find yellow, a great space to intervene there; and not to say like, 'Okay, you're frustrated, I can tell you're angry; let's do something about this.' But I just think of that in my mind, and then I'm thinking, 'Okay, what could be going on here? How could I help in this situation?' Calm them down. And I can calm them down before it turns into a huge red explosion.


How Red Zone looks like for my kids

So, Red Zone for my kids looks like yelling, screaming meltdown. and it's different for everybody, right? My teenager’s probably going to behave pretty differently in his Red Zone than some of my other kids. 

And another thing about this 0–12 self-regulation thing, is that children that are neurodivergent – so, any sort of, emotional or mental things going on, like ADHD or ADD or OSD or whatever – I think that even in children that aren't typically neurodivergent, it can take a little bit longer. 

It's not necessarily like at this age, then this starts happening, right? So, my children that are neurodivergent, it takes them a little bit longer to kind of learn these skills; and that's okay. 

And we can be patient with that and not think, 'Okay, well, now that you're 12 – or now that you're 14, or now that you're 16 – you should know how to handle these things.' 

Especially when we're raised in a home where we didn't necessarily see it be handled well, or we don't know how to handle things well either; we haven't been handling them well, but then we have these expectations about our children handling them well. 

So, the best way to help them through those things is for us to start on us first, to work through those first, before we start working through it with them. 

So, start working on your zones, start getting mindful of your zones and then we can start helping them through their zones as well. 

And I had somebody talk to me and say, "Well, when my child's in their Red Zone, I tried talking to them about it; and they didn't want to talk about it, and they didn't want to do any of the things." 

So, they sat down and actually asked their child, "What do you want to do in Green Zone? What do you want to do in Yellow Zone? What feels good in Red Zone? What kind of things make you feel better?" So, their children had made-- Their child had made this list and then they're like, 'Well, in their Red Zone, they won't listen to me give them their list.' 

Well, would you, if you're in your Red Zone, listen to logic or reasoning from some other person there, that's saying, "Remember you said that you wanted me to remind you to calm down, or to go and jump on the trampoline, or go read a book?" You're probably just going to get more mad. 

So, I find that interacting and intervening in the Yellow Zone is a really great way to do it. But once they're in their Red Zone, they're not necessarily going to want you to come in and try to do the N-O-W Feeling Process with them, or to try to remind them that they need to do something to make themselves feel better – so, they're not always going to deal with it great. 

So, one thing I did with my child, she was little-- I think we did this when she was four. I just started noticing that she kind of had the same pattern of behavior when she would have a meltdown; and what this would look like is screaming, yelling, maybe throwing whatever she was playing with and then running into her room and slamming the door and staying in there and screaming and yelling for a while. 

So, after a while I kind of asked her about it and I just said, "So, it looks like when you're mad that you feel like doing this, is that what you feel like doing?" And she's like, "Yeah, I just feel like I have screams, and I just need to scream." 

And I'm like, "Okay." She's like, "Sometimes I need to scream for a long time, sometimes I don't need to scream for a long time." I'm like, 'Great.' So, she knows that. And then, I'm like, 'What about me? Like, do you want me to be in there with you?' 

And she said, "Yeah, I want you to be in there with me, but I don't want you to talk to me. I don't want to talk to anybody." Sometimes she doesn't want me in there; sometimes she does. And then, she said, "And then afterwards, when I feel better, I want to snuggle; I want to reconnect." 

And I was like, that's interesting that she already can kind of verbalize that, right? So, that's what I started doing; I let her go and scream in her room. And I kind of just say, "I'm here for you if you need me." Sometimes I'll say, "Do you want me here or do you want me to go?" 

And she can't usually speak, because she's screaming too much. But sometimes I can kind of get what she's meaning by her body language, where sometimes she'll like use her fingers – 'okay, point if you want me to leave, or point here if you want me to stay.' So, then she'll tell me that. 

And so, then I honor that; I'll just stay in the room, maybe I stay a little ways away from there because they're kind of conflicted, right? They're having this mixed feeling of like, 'I want you present, but I also want you away because I'm mad, but I also love you.' 

So, it's hard for them to even understand what they want there. So, I usually just sit there; and I wait for her to calm down for a while, and then we snuggle. Now, it doesn't always go perfectly like this. 

Sometimes after a few minutes she just starts screaming about another thing, and she starts screaming about another thing. But when in my mind I can shift it to like, 'oh, she's just releasing a big emotion here,' then 10 minutes later, I can be like, 'oh wait, I thought the emotion was gone, but Nope, she still just needs to release this big emotion here, that's okay' – and I just show up in a different way. 

Doesn't mean that I'm going to let her like hit me or hit other people, I can still say something like, you know, 'soft hands' or 'we don't hit' or something like that. Just like short and sweet; I'm not going to teach in that moment. 

The overarching lesson that I love to tell people is don't teach in the fire. So, when I'm in my Red Zone or when they're in their Red Zone, that's the fire, no teaching is going to happen. 

Nothing logical or helpful is going to happen for me, nothing logical or helpful is going to happen for them – so, try to do what you can to not teach or not respond or react from that position; and wait until everybody's kind of calmed down, and then you can decide. 

And if you feel like it's something you really need to address, like maybe you have a 14-year-old and you're like, 'No, like that language isn't okay, that's not okay,' I want you just to get yourself to a calm place first – maybe do a Thought Dump, like we talked about a few episodes ago, get yourself to a calm space – do a N-O-W Feeling Process and then think about, how do I want to show up? How do I want to have this conversation with them? 

And when I have conversations from that space, it can look like things like really just asking them; 'What was going on there – when you hit your brother or when you stole something or when you were swearing at me, like, what were you feeling? What were you thinking? How did you feel about how you showed up then?' 

And they'll typically say things like, "Yeah, you know, I probably shouldn't have," or "Yeah, that probably wasn't so great". Right? They're not going to get to that immediately when they're in their Red Zone, they're not going to feel that compassion or that guilt from what they did; it's going to take some time. 


And so, just letting them process through their zones in their own way, I would suggest not talking to them for at least 24 hours after this episode. It could be the evening of, or it could be 24 hours after their little meltdown or the little tantrum that they have. 

And also, that sometimes it just doesn't even need to be talked about. Sometimes we can just let it go, and the learning just happens anyways. We're always learning. 

We don't need to be sitting down and trying to make everything a big deal and talking to them about every single thing. So, that zones for us and zones for them, go out and try it this week, and let me know how it goes for you. 

I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.

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